Friday, November 26, 2010

Science Makes Life Magical

I don't have the mental cast to be a scientist—I'm too impatient—but I have the right cast to appreciate science and understand scientific discoveries and facts. I like knowing them, too, because they give me a cool way of looking at the world. There's just something about how the most minute, invisible processes can achieve big, visible, and varied results, and something about how even the most mundane parts of daily life are actually kind of neat when you know what's going on.

To wit, my day so far:

  • I finished my sleep cycle with a revitalized brain and body, which will serve me well for the 14-16 hours I'll be active today. I don't remember anything that took place during the REM period, but I rarely do. I was pleasantly warm thanks to my quilt trapping my body heat and the excited gas molecules coming through the vents.
  • I rolled over and looked at a series of light-emitting diodes arranged in a pattern that goes back hundreds of years and conveys numerical information. Conventionally, this information on this device indicates time of day, which is somewhat arbitrary and somewhat based on the periods of light caused by the tilt of the Earth's axis and the Earth's rotation. The units of time are arranged in base-60, a practice that goes back to one of the world's first civilizations, Babylon.
  • I got out of bed with the aid of a number of muscles and walked to a wall where I pushed on a piece of metal covered in plastic. This action opened an electrical circuit and led to a chemical reaction in a glass container screwed into the ceiling. This reaction released photons so I could see where I was going. I repeated this process with my desk lamp.
  • I pressed a button to generate the electrical signal that would turn my computer on. A bunch of complicated electrical things I don't quite understand happened, which resulted in photons which, once my eyes received the information and sent it to my brain for processing, displayed several sophisticated pieces of coding, several of which allow me to "connect" to the Internet and get news, updates on friends, and other sorts of information that are important to me. I spent a while processing the information received thusly, by moving my eyes across the lit-up area and doing a number of computational and higher-brain-function kinds of things to the signals they sent my brain. (I can go into more detail than that, but I won't bore you.)
  • I walked into another room and opened a circuit that would allow water to flow from a perforated spout near the ceiling. I used a lye-fat compound to remove grease and dirt from my body while standing the water so it would wash the compounds away.
  • I then used heated water to soften the seeds of a semi-aquatic grass. I also used heat to denature the proteins found in chicken eggs and those found in processed curdled milk (with bonus orange dye).
  • I ingested the grass seeds and protein, which will be broken down by stomach acids (and then other chemicals in the small intestine) and get absorbed into my blood stream over the next 24 hours.
  • I did complicated electrical things on my computer again, which resulted in this blog post.
Sounds better than "woke up, looked at the clock, got up, checked the internet, showered, cooked, ate, and wrote a blog post", doesn't it? And that doesn't even begin to get into what I'm doing for the rest of my day… Go science!

1 comment:

Cori said...

Yes, that does sound a lot more interesting!

-Cori